Australia rugby league coach Mal Meninga has been urged to overlook players who refuse to sing the words to the national anthem before Test matches. Several Kangaroos stars stayed mute as Advance Australia Fair was sung before Saturday night's Pacific Championship Test in Townsville, with fans quick to point out the contrast to rivals Samoa and the passionate embrace of their anthem.
Veteran broadcaster Peter Peters believes it's time for players to be left out of the Australian team should they choose to ignore the anthem. "They should be playing tribute to the country they're representing,' he told Yahoo Sport Australia.
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"I'm sick and tired of seeing players zip their mouth in the national anthem." Peters, like many fans, was moved by Samoa's powerful and emotional pre-game ritual.
A number of players were close to tears as their country's national anthem rang out before they performed a traditional war dance. "On Saturday we saw a magnificent war dance and anthem (from Samoa). It meant so much to the Samoan team, well led by Junior Paulo," Peters told Sky Radio's Big Sports Breakfast Weekend.
"It was very much part of them representing their country. On the other side, you've got several Australian players refusing to open their mouth during the national anthem. Mal Meninga should be strong enough to say 'guys, part of playing for Australia is that you sing the national anthem with pride'.
"If you don't want to sing it, you can't be picked. You wear the jersey, you sing the song. It should be part of playing for Australia. This has gone on too long."
Aussie players have refused to sing the anthem in the past
Rugby league authorities have respected the rights of individuals to decide whether to join in the anthem before Test matches and State of Origins, with several players opting not to mouth the words. South Sydney star and proud Indigenous man Cody Walker refused to sing the anthem before a State of Origin match in 2019 and received strong support from those within the game.
"It just brings back so many memories from what's happened and I think everyone in Australia needs to get together and work something out. It doesn't represent myself and my family," Walker said at the time.
"I'm not pushing my views on anyone, it's just how me and my family have grown up and how I feel. I've already voiced my opinion, and I want to reiterate it's just my opinion.''
Unfortunately, Samoa's passionate pre-game build-up didn't materialise into a strong start, with the Kangaroos jumping out to a 22-0 lead before cruising home 38-12.
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